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Coburn Sounds Off on Guns, Immigration

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Coburn said he doesn’t think a gun control package will pass the Senate without significant changes.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., doesn’t believe the gun violence legislation that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to bring to the floor early next month has a chance to become law without significant changes.

“I don’t think so — not at 60 votes, and if it does pass the Senate, it certainly won’t pass the House,” Coburn said, referencing the number of votes needed to beat back a filibuster.

Coburn opposes specific background check provisions that the Nevada Democrat has decided to include in the package.

Coburn said one of his concerns is increased costs associated with gun show transactions under the system.

“We’re going to raise the cost of purchasing at a gun show?” Coburn said in an interview for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program. “A lot of the gun control people would love to see that happen, but it won’t be effective because if there’s a true portal out there, all they’ll do is make an agreement that I’m not buying ... the gun here at this gun show.”

Despite his criticism of the specific Senate package, Coburn predicted that a background check measure that requires instant criminal background checks through a computerized portal would have broad support. He worked with several Democrats, including Sens. Charles E. Schumer of New York and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, on a more substantive background check measure than is currently available, but the two parties were unable to reach a consensus on paperwork requirements. Schumer continues his effort to produce a bipartisan agreement with at least one other Republican.

“I don’t know a Republican that doesn’t want to have significantly enhanced and universal background checks. How you do that and protect the Second Amendment at the same time is very important, and we were very, very close,” Coburn said. He added that gun rights groups are concerned that the requirement to maintain records of the background checks could create a guilty-until-proven innocent situation long after the transaction is completed if a gun is later used in a crime.

“They wanted you to be able to prove in the future that you did that, he said.

The problem with the record keeping, in Coburn’s view, is that it would “put at risk gun owners who actually followed the law and 11 years later can’t find a piece of paper that said they did it right.”

Reid’s move to include the criminal background check language with robust record keeping in the Senate bill won accolades from some supporters of more stringent gun control, though that may not help the effort to secure the 60 votes that would be needed to break a filibuster.

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